I was recently thrown into another adventure, and as always welcomed the challenge. A friend of mine had financial issues with a property at a popular vacation destination in Helen, Georgia. With her at the verge of a short sale, my husband and I advised her to take the chance furnishing the property and listing it as a Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO). Being unfamiliar and non-computer literate she gave us a blank look. After explaining the details we offered our help. Having several properties listed on VRBO, my hubby decided to take charge, enlisting us as masters of the endeavour. And we only had one week to get the place ready prior to Memorial Day, the beginning of “the season.”
The previous night we loaded up an open-air car trailer with her spare household goods. Wrapping the furniture in cellophane then strapping it down was not the ideal situation, but I went with the flow. Why couldn’t we just rent a U-Haul like normal people? For the first 50 miles the furniture shifted and we had to pull over and check the stability. I watched the cellophane getting torn up in the wind, whipping around in the rear-view mirror. We could have easily blended into the set of the Beverly Hillbillies. The bluegrass ballad played through my head as we began our journey out of Florida into the Georgia mountains.
Our thirteen hour drive was split between two days with a stopover at a friend’s house in Jacksonville. Arriving in Helen the following day around 5:00 we almost lost the cargo within the last half mile as we climbed a 45 degree slope. Two pre-arranged helpers greeted us. They had their work cut out for them with three flights of stairs, as did I over the next few days.
Inside the house, the younger teenage mover, with blonde hair, sullen eyes and sweaty six-pack abs pointed to the back slider. “Ma’am, have you seen one of these before.”
I inched closer to the door, examining the small spider on the other side of the glass. “Well, I’ve seen spiders.” I looked at the kid. “It’s not a brown recluse, is it?”
“Yes Ma’am.” He grabbed a large wood pole, slid outside and crushed the spider. It didn’t go easily, spinning down its web like a mini Spider-Man meeting its end.
I shivered. Several years ago, only twenty miles from our current location, my husband was admitted to the ER from what we believed to be a brown recluse spider bite. He blew up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and little Target signs appeared all over his body. I researched the spider extensively and I was very much aware of the damage the little critter could do.
Minutes later hubby was assembling the cable hookup as I was unpacking boxes of plates and cups. I noticed a tiny scorpion scoot across the empty room.
“Honey, can you step on the scorpion?” I calmly asked.
His eyes widened as I pointed to the creature. After two attempts another danger was removed from the house. I was more concerned that something would hurt my dog or husband as I was OK with nature but certainly not immune. I try not to kill things, but a home should be safe. If it’s outside, so be it, I’ll go inside. Thoughts of my one other encounter with a scorpion crossed my mind. I was excavating in the California desert as a field Archaeologist. I left my backpack unzipped in the bush for most of the afternoon. As luck had it when I went to retrieve something from my backpack I witnessed a black scorpion on my bag inching it way towards the opened zipper. I kicked it off my pack and till this day I never leave anything unzipped in nature or in strange rooms. A lesson learned.
Over the course of a few days I got buzzed by hefty wood bees sounding like helicopters. I’d duck down as if I was in a war zone. During one of these episodes my dog went into a frenzy as I hastily opened the back door for her safety, since she’s allergic to bees. During our walks she’d gingerly walk in the fallen leaves, until a leaf jumped back at her. She kept sniffing as it repeatedly jumped. She was more sceptical to the change in environment than I was.
On one day, a moth the size and color of a small palm leaf hung out on the balcony all day. I later learned it was an endangered Luna moth. Living only for a week, its only purpose is to mate. Since it has no mouth, it can’t eat. Next to this stunning creature sat a normal sized grey moth and I silently giggled at the thought of her reproducing with the normal unattractive one. Hell if your endangered and only have a week, why not?
Most of our time involved tracking down used furniture and basic necessities for a large four bedroom house. Thrift stores, yard sales, Wal-Mart and Home Depot, all a good distance from Helen, were part of our repertoire. At the end of the week everything came together beautifully with a charming mountain home complete with picturesque views and everything one could need for a mountain getaway. As we drove back to Florida, we listed the house for our friend online. And I had renewed view of nature and all its funny unusual forms.
My friend who owned the house asked, “Did you at least get some time to enjoy yourself?”
“Ah yes,” I beamed. “I love mountain running and I experienced it every morning.”
My thighs and butt screamed, but I loved the challenge and my time with nature not freaking out about the creatures that somehow in my mind could attack my dog or partner.